On the 9th of February 2016, at the start of the first semester, my Legal Practice lecturer asked each of my classmates to write down a single sentence to describe ourselves. There were two rules:
- Don’t speak in the first person
- Don’t use your name
She did this, she’d said, to learn our names and recall our faces; to see us as we saw ourselves
I clearly remember staring at the blank scrap of paper in front of me for a solid 15 minutes. How the hell was I meant to describe myself in one sentence? How would anyone be able to tell who I was just by reading one sentence? In the last two minutes of the lecture, I finally wrote something down in pen and handed it in.
We didn’t see our lecturer until a week later, and by that time we had all forgotten about the exercise. You can imagine the look of horror on our faces when she began reading the sentences aloud, asking us to guess the person behind them.
There are a few things I learned that day that I will never forget:
- We can all be summed up in one sentence. No matter how long-winded and wordy or short and to-the-point – one sentence is one sentence.
- Everyone was honest with themselves. Each sentence felt like a knife to my heart. It was wonderful to hear how people could romanticise themselves, fully embracing their flaws and strengths. (Granted, they didn’t think that little scrap of paper would ever see the light of day.)
- Only a handful of sentences fit their writers at face value. In being brutally honest, each of us took the time to detach ourselves from the facades we put up for the outside world.
When this lecture took place I was just a 19-year-old girl in the second year of her law degree, desperately trying to answer the age-old question… “Who am I?”
Now, I’m 21 heading into my fourth year and I know exactly who I am. To think that this simple task is what set me on a path of self-discovery and reflection is insane!
Over the last two years my sentence has remained the same:
Wide-eyed and ever fearful, she faces the world.